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A Modern Approach to the Transcription of Vintage Literature using Mobile Technology and Cloud Services

The Digital Special Collections at the Leiden University Library offers an extensive selection of digitised manuscripts, letters, early printed and rare edition books. Currently most of this material can only be viewed in picture format. Thus the content is neither retrievable nor processable through search engines and can not be enriched with semantic metadata or annotated by researchers.

This paper explores how modern technologies like cloud-services and mobile devices can improve existing transcription methods. After a brief exploration of existing projects in the field of access, organisation, transcription and analysis of digital representations of cultural heritage, this paper introduces a new approach, unlike XML technology, to TEI data storage and organisation.

A mobile and cloud-based prototype and a new underlaying TEI format have been developed as a new way for students and researchers from the Leiden University Library to transcribe documents. The cloud service offers exciting possibilities for future research. Results from the prototype revealed that a textit{lightweight} system, both, in the hardware device and the software program greatly improved the research experience of the test group.

Keywords: iPad, Mobile Devices, Digital Humanities, Digital History, CouchDB, TEI, JSON, Cultural Heritage, Transcription.

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